With any superhero media, we often look to the original comics as the inspiration and source material for whatever new adaptation we find ourselves consuming. Insomniac’s first entry in the Spider-Man series drew greatly on the work of writers Dan Slott and Christos Gage, incorporating a more mature and experienced Peter Parker, while also weaving in many of Spidey’s classic rogues like Doctor Octopus and the Sinister Six.
The sequel continues this combination of old and new by adapting one of the greatest Spider-Man comics of all time, Kraven’s Last Hunt from 1987, and connecting it to a new version of the Black Suit Spider-Man story, which borrows greatly from the 2020 King in Black event. Truthfully, through loosely adapting this more recent symbiote centered storyline, Spider-Man 2’s second half, and certainly its third act, drastically shift the momentum and stakes of the story in a way that hinders its ultimate conclusion.
While we follow Peter in his quest to bring the murderous Kraven and his paramilitary organization of “Hunters” to justice, Miles struggles to choose between helping those in need and bringing revenge against those who do harm. This narrative shift ushered in by Venom raises the stakes in such a way that both of these stories are forcibly concluded out of necessity, rather than arriving at their own, more natural endings. Venom arrives on the scene in a visually stunning and incredibly fun rampage through Oscorp Tower which ends with him killing Kraven about halfway through the game. From here on out, Venom and Harry Osborne, who has fully bonded with the alien, act as harbingers of a symbiote apocalypse, which threatens to consume the whole world and turn each and every living thing into a monstrous extension of its hive mind.
Our heroes manage to save the day only by allying with a principal antagonist from the last game, Mr. Negative, who uses his spiritual powers to create in Peter the “Anti-Venom” symbiote, and earns the forgiveness of Miles Morales for the crime of killing his father. From here, things wrap up with Peter and Miles defeating Venom and destroying the psychic meteorite in control of the symbiote hive mind. By doing this, the pair free the people of New York from the alien menace, and leave Harry Osborne once again at the mercy of his terminal illness, now comatose, and in the care of his increasingly desperate father, Norman.
The story is a very rewarding experience, and the game allows players to continue with any remaining side content that they may not have completed before the main story’s conclusion. This post-game state however is very flawed, missing some major functionality that was added in later patches to the first game. As of now, there is no way to begin a New Game+ save file, and no way to change the time of day or weather of the game world.
Another issue unique to this game is the inability to change Peter’s symbiote powers from the white color used by the Anti-Venom symbiote, back to black. I feel that Insomniac Games should let us play with whatever cosmetic changes we want, regardless of narrative accuracy. These hindrances that keep some players from being able to play the way they would want certainly affects how enjoyable the game can be in pursuing 100% completion.
Of course, problems similar to these were present in the original game as well, and were ironed out with time. Insomniac’s post-launch support of the previous title brought along things like New Game+ and new costumes, but also downloadable content (DLC) following-up on minor plotlines in the base game. Many fans, including myself, are speculating at the potential of both DLC and spin-off titles. Some possibilities for this could be more playable Venom sequences, a story following up on Cletus Kassady’s theft of the Carnage Symbiote, or something involving the face-changing villain, The Chameleon, all of whom were present in this version of the game.
Ultimately, however you choose to play, Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 would be a great addition to the library of any Playstation five owner, and I look forward to seeing where Insomniac takes any future installments of this series.